SEC in Fantasy, Week 8: A whole lot of Auburn vs. Auburn

Darius Slayton crossed paths with Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean for a fun MNF game. But first, let's talk about that Daniel Carlson vs. Cody Parkey showdown.

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The autumn wind is a Raider? It sure didn’t seem like it on Sunday afternoon. As weather played a major factor all around the northern part of the country in Week 8, its affects were felt the strongest in front of the Dawg Pound at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Strong, swirling winds were felt very heavily throughout the game, especially in one of the endzones, and gusts were measured at over 40 mph.

Unsure of how to deal with such extreme conditions, Daniel Carlson used some of his pregame warmup time seeking advice from a familiar face who has not once been hesitant to share his insights since Carlson first showed up to Auburn as a strong legged freshman kicker in 2013. At that time, Cody Parkey was in his final season at Auburn and had his sights set on finishing his college career on a high note and prepping for the NFL.

Still Parkey made time for the teenage phenom, sharing insights throughout the season about what it’s like to kick in all sorts of raucous environments that premiere SEC football brings. Carlson learned a lot during that first redshirt season about performing under the bright lights and sell-out crowds, the pressures of being asked to attempt a season-defining kick, and what it looks like when one falls short and is returned 100+ yards to decide the Iron Bowl.

Thankfully, he didn’t learn that last one from Parkey.

Parkey’s advice in all of those scenarios had served Carlson well, as DC finished his career at Auburn holding 14 of the school’s kicking records, breaking the all-time scoring record for the Southeastern Conference, and adding an NCAA record of seven games in his collegiate career in which he made four or more field goals. These honors Parkey has repeatedly said he could see coming from a mile away when the two first met on the Plains.

What Parkey had never prepared Carlson for was the conditions they each faced on Sunday. And if ever there was a time to refuse advising services, Parkey was in that spot Sunday morning. After all, his Browns were just over an hour away from a big AFC showdown against Carlson’s Raiders, and the nasty winds were seeming to pick up stronger by the minute.

Instead, Parkey proceeded to do what he had always done — share his insights with the younger Carlson about how to deal with a fierce, cutting breeze.

Both men suffered brutal misses during the game on balls that each said they hit exactly right. For Carlson, it was a missed opportunity to get his Raiders on the board first, as he calculated the right to left gale and blasted one to the right upright. Unfortunately, the east endzone let through a gust that whipped the ball all the way to the left, clanging off the left upright and resulting in a miss from 41 yards away.

Parkey would hit his try from 41 a quarter later, which was answered by consecutive makes from Carlson, including a 33-yard field goal as time expired in the first half. Parkey hit from 38 on the first drive of the second half, which was followed by a Raiders touchdown, a Carlson extra point, and Carlson’s third good field goal try of the day from 24 yards out, making it a 16-6 ballgame with about four and a half minutes of game time left.

Parkey had one more try on the following drive to attempt to pull Cleveland within a single score. Just after the two-minute warning, Parkey trotted out to kick a 37-yard field goal when the winds were at their absolute worst. Facing even stronger endzone forces than his former teammate did in the first quarter, Parkey aimed outside the right upright and put his foot through the ball. Unfortunately for him and the Browns, he would have been better off trying to kick it towards the right pylon as the wind took hold and threw it even farther to the left, effectively ending the game at 16-6.

Maybe it is a Raider after all.

For as cruel as she was to the former Auburn standout placekickers, Mother Nature could not stop everyone this weekend. Let’s take a look at how the rest of the league’s alumni fared, update the standings, and see who did enough to get their name on this week’s All-SEC team:

Alabama

QB: Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) – 5.7

RB: Derrick Henry (Titans) – 17.2

RB: Damien Harris (Patriots) – 16.2

WR: Julio Jones (Falcons) – 17.2

WR: Jerry Jeudy (Broncos) – 9.3

TE: Irv Smith Jr. (Vikings) – 2.1

FLEX: Josh Jacobs (Raiders) – 12.9

TOTAL = 80.6

Though the highly anticipated pro debut of Tagovailoa resulted in a double-digit upset win for the home dog Dolphins, his performance wasn’t exactly pretty. Credit to the Dolphins defense and special teams for creating an environment in which 12/22 for 93 yards, a touchdown, a fumble lost, and zero second half points won by 11.

As for the backfield, all three active former Tide running backs broke 100 yards rushing this week. Only Henry and Harris crossed the goal line, though, so Josh Jacobs had to settle for the FLEX spot.

On Thursday night, Julio Jones continued his resurgence as king of the Falcons receiving corps with seven catches for 137 yards. After Calvin Ridley’s hot start, Julio has now outperformed his protégé in three of the last four weeks he has been active. Jerry Jeudy received the same number of targets as Julio (10), but only caught four of those passes for 73 yards.

Arkansas

TE: Hunter Henry (Chargers) – 5.3

FLEX: Jeremy Sprinkle (Football Team) – BYE

TOTAL = 5.3

It’s becoming a curious case for Hunter Henry’s production. For the first time this season, Henry logged a 100 percent catch rate versus the Broncos. Unfortunately, that was largely due to his target total being just four, as four other Chargers saw more passes thrown their way in Week 8. Henry hasn’t gone for more than 50 yards since Week 2 — the beginning of the Justin Herbert era.

Auburn

QB: Cam Newton (Patriots) – 18.4

RB: Kerryon Johnson (Lions) – 8.5

RB: Peyton Barber (Football Team) - BYE

WR: Darius Slayton (Giants) – 8.1

TE: C.J. Uzomah (Bengals) - INJ

FLEX: Chandler Cox (Dolphins) - OUT

K: Daniel Carlson (Raiders) – 10

TOTAL = 45.0

A gut-wrenching red zone fumble will rightfully overshadow what was shaping up to be a much-improved Sunday for the Patriots and their signal caller. With even less talent available around him this week, Newton led two game-tying touchdown drives in the second half and was very well on his way to either a third or a potential game winner before Justin Zimmer punched the ball out at the Bills 14-yard line. In the end, the Pats dropped the result to the Bills, the divisional chasm grew larger, and New England remains with just two tallies in the win column.

Though Kerryon went another week without taking a handoff, he did manage to catch two passes, including a nine-yard dump and dash from the flats to the pylon in the third quarter as the Lions fell to Braden Smith and the Colts.

In a surprisingly entertaining Monday Night bout against Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and the Buccaneers’ defense, Darius Slayton had one of the biggest plays of the night, bailing out his quarterback on a last ditch catch and run on fourth-and-long to extend the game. Though certainly the biggest, that was just one of Slayton’s nine targets, which led to five catches and 56 yards.

Florida

QB: Jeff Driskel (Broncos) - OUT

RB: La’Mical Perine (Jets) – 4.3

WR: Demarcus Robinson (Chiefs) – 14.3

WR: Van Jefferson (Rams) – 3.3

TE: Trey Burton (Colts) – 8.6

FLEX: Freddie Swain (Seahawks) - 0

TOTAL = 30.5

Demarcus Robinson is the Gator of the Week after turning in his best fantasy performance of the season: four catches, 63 yards, and a touchdown. Perine can thank D-Rob for contributing to a predictably negative game script for the visiting Jets, greatly limiting his opportunity for fantasy impact.

For the second time in as many weeks, Trey Burton scored a rushing touchdown for the Colts. He continues to line up at quarterback in goal-to-go situations for Indy, and as long as he continues to bulldoze his way across the line, why not keep calling his number?

Georgia

QB: Matthew Stafford (Lions) – 23.4

RB: Todd Gurley II (Falcons) – 10.6

RB: D’Andre Swift (Lions) – 3.8

WR: Mecole Hardman (Chiefs) – 19.1

WR: A.J. Green (Bengals) – 2.9

TE: Isaac Nauta (Lions) – 0

FLEX: Javon Wims (Bears) – 1.4

K: Rodrigo Blankenship (Colts) - 3

TOTAL = 64.2

Alright, before we get into the Bulldogs’ passing, running, and catching performances, we have to show you Javon Wims losing his marbles:

OK, back to sanity. Mecole Hardman’s career day was jumpstarted by a pop pass 30-yard touchdown in the first quarter, which ended in seven catches for 96 yards. Gurley had a hard time getting anything going in Charlotte but did manage to seal the win with a fourth quarter score.

The Lions handed the ball off to a running back a mere 11 times on Sunday, with the six going to D’andre Swift resulting in a grand total of one yard. Swift at least hauled in a couple of his targets to stave off total fantasy irrelevance. A.J Green had a similarly uneventful game after a strong previous two weeks.

As mentioned a mere three sentences ago, the Lions pretty much abandoned the run and relied solely on Stafford’s arm against the Colts. Stafford hurled the ball 42 times, resulting in 24 completions for 336 yards and three touchdowns. He replaced the point lost via interception with a 10-yard run. And his goggled kicker, Hot Rod Blankenship, only managed to hit three of his five extra point attempts, quite a rarity for the reliable rookie.

Kentucky

RB: Benny Snell Jr. (Steelers) – 0

WR: Randall Cobb (Texans) – BYE

WR: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Dolphins) - 0

TOTAL = 0

The Bluegrass Cats are serving up this week’s fantasy bagel.

LSU

QB: Joe Burrow (Bengals) – 18.9

RB: Leonard Fournette (Buccaneers) – 8.6

RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs) – 4.6

WR: Jarvis Landry (Browns) – 7.2

WR: Justin Jefferson (Vikings) – 4.1

TE: Foster Moreau (Raiders) – 0

FLEX: Russell Gage (Falcons) – 3.5

TOTAL = 46.1

The winds that ravaged against passing attacks and kicking games across the country this weekend didn’t seem to bother Burrow too much, as he showed impressive elusiveness by evading sacks and making big third down throws throughout the Bengals home upset of the Titans. 26-of-37 for two touchdowns, no turnovers, and no sacks will play every single week.

The other Baby Bayou Tigers, CEH and Justin Jefferson, weren’t called on nearly as much this week, each watching their team’s biggest star light up the scoreboard all day. Fournette became the go-to back for the Bucs after Ronald Jones fumbled early on, racking up 52 yards on 15 carries and hauling in half of his six targets for 19 yards.

There may not be a player in the NFL in greater need of a BYE week than the double-injured Jarvis Landry. He will hope to heal up a banged up hip and a broken rib in Week 9.

Mississippi State

QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys) – INJ

WR: Isaiah Zuber (Patriots) – 1.8

TE: Jordan Thomas (Cardinals) - OUT

TOTAL = 1.8

Zuber’s back! After a week on the practice squad, Zuber returned with a single third quarter catch for 13 yards.

Missouri

QB: Drew Lock (Broncos) – 20.8

TE: Albert Okwuegbunam (Broncos) – 7.4

TOTAL = 28.2

It looked like we were headed towards another unpleasant Drew Lock start. With 3:14 to go in the third quarter, Lock had thrown his fifth interception in a touchdown-deprived three-week span. But, as the saying goes, that’s why they call them quarters – you get four. The final one saw the Chargers Charger at forces they haven’t since … like two weeks ago. Never mind that, Drew Lock threw three fourth quarter touchdowns including another one to Albert O and his final pass as time expired, setting up the extra point for a one-point Broncos victory.

Ole Miss

RB: Jordan Wilkins (Colts) – 19.8

WR: D.K. Metcalf (Seahawks) – 34.1

WR: A.J. Brown (Titans) – 10.4

TE: Evan Engram (Giants) – 9.5

FLEX: Dawson Knox (Bills) - INJ

TOTAL = 73.8

The big winners of Week 8 were clearly the Ole Miss alumni, who needed just four active players to put up the second highest weekly score in the conference. D.K. was easily the top performing wide receiver in the NFL this week, snagging 12 of the 15 balls thrown his way for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Jordan Wilkins got the hot-hand treatment and nearly doubled his yardage total for the season, amassing single game career highs in attempts (20) and rushing yards (89). Add in a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a 24-yard catch to Wilkins dream day.

Joining his Mississippi friends in the end zone on Sunday was A.J. Brown, who needed the score to keep him from his fantasy floor. Though he has still yet to score a touchdown this season, Evan Engram chipped in 9.5 for the third time this season.

South Carolina

RB: Mike Davis (Panthers) – 8.2

RB: Rico Dowdle (Cowboys) – 0

WR: Damiere Byrd (Patriots) – 5.4

WR: Deebo Samuel (49ers) - INJ

TE: Jared Cook (Saints) – 13.6

FLEX: Hayden Hurst (Falcons) – 7.9

K: Ryan Succop (Buccaneers) - 15

TOTAL = 50.1

Ryan Succop put up his second 4/4 FG, 1/1 XP game of the season last night. He hasn’t missed a kick of any kind in a month and has been a force for the Buccaneers all season. Jared Cook put up his third consecutive double-digit fantasy day since returning from injury in Week 5. He has now had touchdowns in back-to-back games, going for five catches and 51 yards against the Bears. Hayden Hurst and Damiere Byrd both pitched in right around their average fantasy output for the season.

Unfortunately for South Carolina, Mike Davis’ time as the premiere tailback for the Panthers looks like it’s going to end a bit flat. After five consecutive weeks of double-digit work, including three straight games of over 19 points from Weeks 3-5, Davis has totaled just 14.3 points in his last two weeks combined. With Christian McCaffrey due back in the week ahead, South Carolina may be chased down sooner rather than later.

Tennessee

QB: Joshua Dobbs (Steelers) - OUT

RB: Alvin Kamara (Saints) – 20.8

RB: Jakob Johnson (Patriots) – 0.6

WR: Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears) – 1.5

WR: Marquez Callaway (Saints) - INJ

TE: Jason Witten (Raiders) – 3.1

FLEX: Luke Stocker (Falcons) - 0

TOTAL = 25.4

Surprise, surprise. Alvin Kamara has played seven games this season. Alvin Kamara has made our All-SEC list six times. The fantasy floor Kamara brings to the table every week is unreal. I mean, the guy hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4 and it just hasn’t mattered. In fact, the Saints are 3-0 in games in which Kamara has not scored a touchdown and are 1-2 in games in which he has scored multiple times.

Does that make sense? Absolutely not. This week it was 12 rushes, nine catches, and 163 all-purpose yards.

Texas A&M

QB: Ryan Tannehill (Titans) – 18.3

RB: Cullen Gillaspia (Texans) - BYE

RB: Trayveon Williams (Bengals) - 0

WR: Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – 14.0

WR: Josh Reynolds (Rams) – 6.4

TE: Jace Sternberger (Packers) – 6.1

FLEX: Christian Kirk (Cardinals) – BYE

K: Randy Bullock (Bengals) - 7

TOTAL = 51.8

Ryan Tannehill had an almost exact replica of his Week 7 start on Sunday. This 18-30, 2 TD passing line came with 13 more yards through the air (233) and an interception, but his improved rushing total pushed his score up a point from last week.

Nine of Jared Goff’s 61(!!!) pass attempts were intended for Josh Reynolds on Sunday. Reynolds came down with just four of them for 44 yards. Sternberger’s performance was in that same neighborhood, albeit with significantly fewer targets - three catches for 46 yards.

Randy Bullock opened the game by putting a 33-yard field goal through the uprights and would only kick extra points (4) from there on. Bullock is a perfect 20 for 20 on extra point attempts this season.

Vanderbilt

RB: Khari Blasingame (Titans) – 1.0

RB: Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Buccaneers) - 0

WR: Trent Sherfield (Cardinals) - 0

TOTAL = 1.0

Shoutout to Khari Blasingame for the 5-yard catch. ‘Dores on the board!

FANTASY STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 8

1. Alabama: 750.8 (last week - 1)

2. LSU: 639.1 (2)

3. Georgia: 627.4 (3)

4. Texas A&M: 478.5 (4)

5. South Carolina: 390.7 (5)

6. Auburn: 349 (6)

7. Ole Miss: 299.8 (7)

8. Tennessee: 246.8 (8)

9. Florida: 197.3 (9)

10. Mississippi State: 151.9 (10)

11. Kentucky: 93.2 (11)

12. Missouri: 75.6 (13)

13. Arkansas: 55.7 (12)

14. Vanderbilt: 16.4 (14)

WEEK 8 ALL-SEC FANTASY TEAM

QB: Matthew Stafford (Georgia/Lions) – 23.4

RB: Alvin Kamara (Tennessee/Saints) – 20.8

RB: Jordan Wilkins (Ole Miss/Colts) – 19.7

WR: D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss/Seahawks) – 34.1

WR: Mecole Hardman (Georgia/Chiefs) – 19.1

TE: Jared Cook (South Carolina/Saints) – 13.6

FLEX: Derrick Henry (Alabama/Titans) – 17.42

K: Ryan Succop (South Carolina/Buccaneers) – 15

TOTAL = 162.9

Making their respective debuts as All-SEC honorees in Week 8 were: Matthew Stafford and Mecole Hardman of Georgia and D.K. Metcalf and Jordan Wilkins of Ole Miss. The pair of Saints, Kamara and Cook, are the only two players returning to the top of the league from a week ago.

For the first time in a non-kicker spot, the list features a tie as former Crimson Tide standouts Derrick Henry and Julio Jones racked up just enough points to share the FLEX this week. Former Gamecock great, Ryan Succop, got the top kicking spot in the conference for the second time this season after a very busy and perfect Monday night.

Though there was only one move in the team standings this week, Missouri leaping over Arkansas, significant ground was gained in several races. Georgia is right on LSU’s heels — now less than 12 points back, while Ole Miss’s incredibly efficient day has them gunning for a top five spot in the conference. Missouri has its eyes set on the top 10 and should manage to achieve the feat rather quickly, given that Drew Lock plays a little more like his final 15 minutes of Week 8.

At the season’s halfway mark, Auburn is just one spot north of the very middle of the conference standings. Sitting a little under 42 points shy of South Carolina who should get limited production from its top performer, Mike Davis, again soon, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Tigers could get back into the top five within a couple of weeks. It will likely take a big Cam game (like Week 9’s matchup against the Jets provides), some sort of usage from the backfield, a couple of Darius Slayton scores, and a bit less of that autumn wind for Carlson and Parkey.

Be sure to make it to The Auburn Observer on Tuesday, as we put a bow on Week 9 and look forward to the second half of the NFL season.

Up next on The Auburn Observer: Subscribers will get a story on Auburn sophomore power forward Jaylin Williams on Thursday and a basketball-only podcast on Thursday. You can also go ahead and send in questions for Friday’s Aubserver Mailbag — email them to the1andonlyJF@gmail.com or tweet them at @JFergusonAU.

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